VOORHEES – New baby girl. New house/home in Minnesota. New job on the NHL Return to Play committee.
Do you sometimes get the feeling like James van Riemsdyk is trying to land a 747 in a thunderstorm?
Well, if you inquire of the Flyers veteran left wing whether he’s intimidated by it all, you’ve come to the wrong guy.
That question came up after Wednesday’s third day of training camp at the Skate Zone: Did he ever consider opting out of the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs for health reasons, the answer was pretty decisive.
“No, for me and my family, I think they know how much everything means to me, as far as hockey and stuff like that,’’ JVR said. “Obviously being on the Return to Play committee and seeing some of the ins and outs that are going into these decisions, I think they saw the thought that was going into this.
“Again, they (the NHL) weren’t going to put us in a position where we would be extra vulnerable, put our health at stake and, in essence, put the health of our family at stake.’’
There’s no telling how long the Flyers will have to remain in the Toronto bubble for possibly the first two rounds.
“I think they (JVR’s family) were comfortable with that,’’ the New Jersey native said. “My family knows how much the game means to me. We came to the decision and there wasn’t much thought about opting out. I’m happy to be here, back with the guys, we have some of these protocols in place to try and mitigate the risks and now it’s just about us living smart, not being selfish with the decisions we make, especially away from the rink.’’
Should the Flyers advance to the Eastern Conference finals in Edmonton, families would be allowed to visit. Van Riemsdyk sounds like he’s trying not to think too far ahead.
“We’ll still have to talk about that a little bit more,’’ he said. “It’s one of those things where you just see where the world is at that point.
“Certainly as I’ve mentioned before, playing hockey and chasing the Stanley Cup is a huge dream of mine. I really would want to be able to share that with my family so that would be pretty important to me if we get to that point to be able to have them there. We’ll look at the state of things and again if things look good I think there’s no reason why I wouldn’t have them come and be a part of it at that point.’’
As for his role in getting hockey back on ice, the Midddletown, N.J. native gave the impression he found the process worthwhile and somewhat gratifying.
He was asked a “what if’’ question, namely, if the new collective bargaining agreement and return to play protocols weren’t a linked vote, would the overall vote possibly be closer.
“That’s a good question,’’ he responded. “I haven’t put a ton of thought into that particular thing, obviously we were just worrying about what was directly in front of us and the circumstances that were there.
“The one thing I did find with being a rep and on a ton of those calls hearing about all the things and thoughts that are going into these things to try to do this in the safest way and mitigate as much risk as possible, I found that the more guys have been informed and involved, the more at ease they were with some of these issues that may have come up.’’
According to van Riemsdyk, the players for the most part seem comfortable with the precautions being taken.
“When they find out more about the different protocols for testing and different things like that, I think they become a little bit more at ease,’’ he said. “I know there’s extra insurance policies as well being taken out just in case there’s some sort of long-term issues that may come up. You have that aspect looked after as well.’’
Of course, not everyone is on board but the vast majority are willing to give it a shot.
“Again, there is a lot of uncertainty around this thing,’’ JVR said. “Each person deals with that and reacts to that differently. You see some people opting out and you see the reasons that they are doing that. You support them as a fellow player. It comes down to individual circumstance and situation.
“Ultimately, like I said before, when you look through everything and all the different things that are in place and the stuff that they are trying to do to keep us safe, the protocols around the rink and the testing and stuff like that, it becomes more and more clear that we’re not going to be put in a situation that’s going to be any greater risk that just otherwise in our everyday life.’’